24 Nov 2022 10:11 am

On Wednesday, the Moskvich plant in Moscow started serial production of a new crossover. With the revival of the old traditional brand in a new guise, a new chapter in the development of the Russian automotive industry is to be opened.

In addition to “Volga”, “Lada” and “Niwa”, the “Moskvitch” was one of the better-known Soviet car brands, at least East Germans will still remember it. The plant in south-east Moscow, where it was manufactured for decades, was one of the first fruits of Soviet industrialization and had started production in 1930. In the years that followed, it grew to the size of a larger small town and, at its peak, employed over 60,000 workers who rolled 400,000 new cars off the assembly line each year.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the associated economic crisis, the plant was converted into a joint-stock company and privatized in 1993. Business was obviously not going too well, because production was stopped in 2010 and the AG was wound up. The huge Autostadt had meanwhile been reduced to just a few assembly halls, and most of the area was empty or rented to users from outside the industry. Those remaining assembly halls were taken over in 2014 by the French Renault group, which had been a cooperation partner and technology supplier since the 1960s. It had its own brands and those of Nissan assembled there in order to avoid the import duties on passenger cars, which had meanwhile been greatly increased to protect domestic production .

In May 2022, Renault announced it was withdrawing from Russia and transferred ownership of the Moscow plant to the Moscow City Government. Under their direction, a new joint-stock company called “Moscow Autowerk Moskvich AG” was created, reviving the traditional name.

The “Moskvitch” automobile plant resumed operations on Wednesday. The news agency RIA Novosti reported on the opening ceremony.

The “Moskvich 3 Urban Crossover” will go into series production first. It is a compact crossover with a length of 4,410 mm, a width of 1,800 mm and a height of 1,660 mm with a wheelbase of 2,620 mm and a spacious interior with ergonomic seats. The model is equipped with a turbocharged petrol engine (1.5 liters, 150 hp, 210 Nm) mated to a CVT automatic transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox. The exterior of the vehicle is characterized by geometric body lines and modern LED lighting with a distinctive light cluster.

Serial production was opened by Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

In his speech, the minister pointed out that this year not only the large-scale assembly of the Moskvich 3, but also the production of electric cars will begin. Manturov said:

“The task for the near future is to set up assembly processes with local suppliers by the end of 2023. The next stage will be the creation of our own universal platform for the domestic electric vehicle, the production of which is planned to start at the end of 2025.”

A Graveyard of Legends – Museum of Soviet Cars

He identified this area of ​​work as a priority for the plant. According to the ministry, there are plans that have been drawn up and fully financed by 2025 to increase the degree of technological independence from imports. Complete technological independence with 100% localization of all suppliers in Russia should be achieved by 2027.

Manturov promised that the start of full-scale production at the Moscow site would create around 40,000 new jobs for the Moscow company.

Sobyanin recalled that the plant started operating less than six months after Renault left the company:

“Many thought that this (Renault’s departure – editor’s note) would mean the end of the Russian car industry, but in fact it was another incentive to revive production. Moscow now has a new model under the old brand ‘Moskvich’, and this is a historic event.”

The mayor expressed confidence that in a few years the plant will produce electric cars on its own platform. Moscow already has competencies in the field of electromobility, from rail vehicles to electrically powered watercraft. More and more electric vehicles are on the streets of Moscow. That is the future, emphasized the Lord Mayor, both in terms of technology and ecologically compatible mobility in large cities.

Moscow nationalizes Renault factory – and plans revival of the Moskvitch brand

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, sales of Moskvich 3 crossovers in the capital will start as early as December. The brand’s vehicles will be included in government demand support programs in the future.

Following the current international classification, the revived brand’s models will have numeric codes denoting vehicle size and rank within the family. Depending on the change, the codes may contain additional letter codes. For example, an “E” stands for electric vehicle.

RIA Novosti recalls in its report that Renault left the plant without technology, without design documents and without components to support production, but with wage debts to the workforce for 2021 in the amount of 691 million rubles, which the Moscow government immediately paid settled after becoming the owner of the plant. The revitalization of the work will take place in three phases spread over a period of six years. A dedicated dealer network for the sale and maintenance of the vehicles is already being set up.

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Source: RT

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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